Thursday, July 03, 2008

How I did this... [4]

There is a taxidermist near the house. I had been wanting to go in to see what they might have. Kerik Kouklis (a platinum printer from California) had a series of images of mammalian skulls that attracted my attention. I visited the bone and fur shop with Kerik's work in mind.

I learned that certain bones are unlawful to sell. Other bones are offered for sale with no hindrance of the law. After choosing the largest lawful skull I could find and paying for it, I quickly headed home. The project I had in mind would look nothing like Kerik's work. Rather, what I saw in my mind's eye was a body of work a little more ethereal in nature.

In similar time I had stumbled upon David Hobby's Strobist blog and was excited by the work and lighting techniques that he brought to readers attention. David also runs a Flickr pool devoted to followers of his Strobist pages. From these two sources of inspiration I wanted to try my hand at photographing the etherial theme as a white on white work.

My light setup was, well, there's no other way to put it, bone simple.

I chose the backdrop and grabbed two three foot high tables. I mounted an Alien Bee B800 onto a three by four foot softbox and rested by the edges of the softbox to suspend between the two tables. Then I took five sheets of white ragboard. One sheet of ragboard rested vertically against the two tables to form the "back" of the unsophisticated light box. Two sheets of ragboard rested vertically from the floor to just under the Alien Bee softbox to form the "sides" of the box. Then two more sheets of ragboard were used to form the "front" of the light box.

The last two sheets of ragboard were required so that I could shoot between the sheets and through the makeshift barn door like opening they formed. The idea was make sure light from the Alien Bee B800/Softbox bounced from all sides and angles, spilling all over and around the subject.

The whole time the subject rested quietly in the middle. I suppose this was an unintended benefit of working with a dead subject.

Radiant Bones - All Hallows Eve

Post processing in the Gimp was kept to a minimum. The original exposures contained all the detail I was hoping for. I added Ken Lee's Bronze Quadtone tint to bring a little platinum warmth to the final print.

If my Flickr post of this image is any indication, people like the image. This photo has received well over 1,000 views.

We will see something very similar to this when I write about the award winning skull image that is also posted on my Flickr site.

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